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From Local to National Nursing Advocacy: My Journey

Healthcare policy and reform is a complex and ever-evolving field, and it is essential that nurses are aware of the changes and developments that are occurring in their state. Health care policy in different states can vary significantly, so understanding the nuances of each state is vital for nurses to ensure they are providing the best care possible.


Make'da's story highlights this importance and the life-changing opportunities it created for her.

 

As a new registered nurse working in an urban hospital in Charleston, South Carolina, it was nearly impossible to overlook my patient's disparities.


A lack of access and resources available to some communities had a direct impact on their health.


And I was determined to make a difference.


Colleagues and medical professionals I talked to in my area shared perspectives and stories that helped give me a better understanding of my state's current healthcare.


But it also made me wonder if other states' policies and conditions were different than what I'd experienced in South Carolina.


Travel nursing became the vehicle for me to explore this.


By the time I landed in California and saw the same access to care issues, the same quality of care issues, and the same outrageous out-of-pocket expenses across multiple states, I knew that on a national scale, our healthcare system was fragile.


It begged the question, "How do we make healthcare more equitable regardless your of income, insurance status, or the community you live in?


My answer: A shared agenda.


However, in order to create a shared agenda, I would need to:


  • Connect providers, community groups, health associations, and local politicians to help advocate for policy change together.

  • Educate the nursing profession about these systemic issues and their effects on nursing practice

  • Involve nurses directly in solution development


In short, I was one voice and needed support from people with the same mission.


So, I applied and was selected to be one of four 2022 Fellows in the American Nurses Association\California's Advocacy Institute Fellowship.


During the program, I learned how to navigate the complex and ever-changing world of healthcare policy and reform, and how this knowledge could help me achieve my goals. I connected with coalition partners, colleagues, and leaders to discuss the implications of these health equity issues.


It also led to authoring this article about how nurses can create a shared agenda.


Fast forward and the culmination of this work led me to receive a scholarship from the national American Nurses Association. I continue my work today developing health literacy tools for underserved communities.


So what does my story mean to you?


The more you learn to develop your skills, network, and mission, the more value and influence you can create with like-minded individuals.


Take the same steps I took:


- Get curious

- Get involved

- Create change!


The ANA\California has been a catalyst for my advocacy journey. If you'd like to follow in my footsteps, submit your application to the next Fellowship cohort or reach out to the ANA\California Team here.



 

ANA\California is the state chapter of the American Nurses Association. ANA\California is a 501(c)6 lobbying organization, advocating for and representing all registered nurses in the state of California, without regard to specialty or practice setting.


Joining ANA\California ensures that registered nurses will continue to provide safe, competent, and quality health care to Californians.

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